An appointment for work brought me back to the campus that holds two educational institutions, one of which is where I spent 3 years studying for a degree I was never sure I wanted. I knew I wanted a degree; I loved studying; just that in those three years in that school, I never had one of those mushy, warm-all-over moments when I thought, "I love this beautiful place and I can't bear to think of graduating and leaving it for the big, bad world."
Because, actually, it's not a beautiful place. I used to describe my university as "a pimple on _____ College's butt". With age has come greater tact, and now I would only go so far as to say it's an extension to the original building that was built with more consideration for economics than aesthetics. The original college had the frontage. We had the... never mind. And still, our parents had to pay more than double (a LOT more than double) of what a comparable course would have cost elsewhere. "But there you don't get degree from this Australian uni, some more this is an offshore campus." (That came from the counsellors, and we believed it.)
The "perks" of attending this offshore campus rather than a local college, besides the exorbitant fees, were: 1) our very own set of restrooms; 2) our very own entrance to the library (they knocked out a few feet of wall, put in a door and called it 'our' library); 3) the occasional reminder that students at the onshore campuses had it much, much cushier. During communication lab classes, they got to go to the computer lab. We had an extra tutorial to make up for the computers in our lab not being equipped for whatever it was we were supposed to do.
About twenty of us graduated from my class in this university. I'm pretty sure there isn't a single one of us who was sure the experience and subsequent degree were worth the money. Things haven't improved much since then, yet the uni has no shortage of prospective students. It makes me wonder if it all makes sense: my parents paid a bundle so I would go to uni and learn a little more than what I would have learnt if I hadn't gone to uni; now that I've graduated, that knowledge is supposed to help me earn more so I can save up and one day send my kids to uni...
All that said, though, I admit I miss the structure and constant challenges of academia. Given the chance (and the moolah), I would go back to school any day because I'm not done learning yet and university does force you to learn faster, think harder, understand better.
Yup, I'd love to go back to school. But even though today's visit sparked off some serious nostalgia, ("Ooh, the bookshop! That's where we laughed for five minutes over that coin bank in the shape of a couch with two penguins on it!"), I am quite sure of one thing.
I won't be going back to that school.